The story of the School of Dance & Music really began long before owners Liliana and Dan first opened their doors.
As a young girl, Liliana was painfully shy. We’re talking so bad that she spent the first two dance classes she ever took crying on her mother’s lap instead of in the class having fun. She had to learn English when she started school (her parents are Italian immigrants), but even then she barely spoke at all through the early years of grade school, and was eventually even voted ‘most likely to be a nun’ in her elementary school yearbook. It was safe to say she was one little girl who did not want to be in the spotlight.
Fast forward twelve years, and a 15-year-old Liliana was not only participating in dance classes, but teaching them…to adults! So what happened? DANCE.
Dance woke Liliana up to the wonderfully expressive, confident person hiding inside herself. It also enabled her to perform and choreograph professionally on stage and got her thinking that if dance could do that for a girl like her, how could she use it to help unlock this potentially life-changing freedom in others as well? So after college, instead of going to medical school with her Biology degree (her parents’ dream for her), she opened her own dance studio to see if there really was a possibility for this vision, along with the selfish benefit of surrounding herself with the raw honesty, wonderment, joy and creativity that kids possess.
Not long after the dance studio opened, a friend invited Liliana to a concert at the Santa Monica pier. A local band was playing and, of course, Liliana’s eye went straight to the lead guitarist and singer. There may have been a little more to it than that, because after the show, she asked him out, and that’s how Liliana met Dan. Music had been for Dan what dance was to Liliana…it was an arena that grew deep friendships and an outlet that let expression and consistent focus open new possibilities in life (like being the geek that could transform himself into a rock star with some stage lights and sunglasses). So instead of his hard-earned Engineering degree sealing his fate in an industry that wasn’t fully his passion, it was only a few years after helping Liliana with the dance studio that they decided to join forces and add a full music program to the studio’s offerings. Since they first opened the doors in 1999, Liliana and Dan now have 2 little boys of their own and have grown the School of Dance & Music (you might say their first child) in response to the amazing support and commitment from the local community. Liliana and Dan have now been a part of helping over 10,000 students come alive through dance and music, and have watched students grow from young children into confident, happy young adults through the power of a dance and music education. They are so proud to have families, teachers and students call S.D.M. their home away from home and hope to continue inspiring others to help find their voices that will let them write their own stories of lifelong success.